Yesterday was a day full of adventures! Sunday is the first workday of the week for Israelis, so streets were full and there was traffic, but mostly heading in the other direction. Driving north to Akko in our still beeping bus took about an hour, but it was absolutely worth it. The Crusaders came here, knowing this city as Acre. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Akko has two parts, above and below ground. The Old City of Akko is a well preserved Crusader city, still being unearthed and brought back to life; it is directly under the bustling city above. We walked through narrow tunnels, bending over quite a bit in parts, but never having to crawl on hands and knees, to secretly pass from one side of the city to the other, linking the invincible fortress with the port. Zvi treated us to fresh (and delicious) pomegranate juice to refresh ourselves while exploring alleyways, museums, underground shops, and the port. Relearning about the work of the Templars and Hospitallers standing in the very rooms they knew so well was stepping back into the 11th century. But I realize I have confused and combined Akko with Cesarea, where we were yesterday, so I apologize for these mistakes; they are from my own overfilled mind. Each of those places was an amazing experience; I would have liked to have had more time in both, but the marketplace and the underground rooms were in Akko, not Cesarea. Thus, yesterday's ramblings were slightly misleading but not intentionally so.
Also in Akko we stopped at a coppersmith to see his beautiful work, and were treated to watching him take a short length of copper and making it into a decorated bracelet, right in front of our eyes. Astoundingly, he placed it on my wrist, an early birthday present! But even more surprises lay in wait for us on this gorgeous day. During the afternoon we took a peaceful boat ride, around Akko's lovely harbor and out into the gentle Mediterranean. I do love boats, any kind, from rafts to canoes to motorboats to catamarans to riverboats, the largest I've been on. If I ever cross the Atlantic by boat I think I'd like to do it not in an ocean liner, but in a much smaller ship, and, of course, not encounter any serious storms along the way. If our boat capsizes and I wash overboard and die, then the fish can eat me (restoring some small balance to the universe even though I haven't eaten fish in over 25 years). Before we knew it was illegal, my sister and I buried our father's ashes in the Atlantic Ocean, off a point on Rhode Island's coast. My father had always said he wanted to be buried at sea, that he had eaten so many fishes in his life that it was their turn to eat him. I'm sure the fish would have preferred a body rather than ashes and pieces of bone, but this was the best we could do to honor his wishes, and the fishes.
After Akko we drove further north to Rosh Hanikra, almost to the border with Lebanon; in fact we could see it not so very far away. A 19 year old soldier stood guard at one of the heavily gated limits of Israel; he carried/wore an M-15, was shy, seemed tired, and looked very young. Zvi asked him to kindly talk with us, to answer our questions for a few moments, and he agreed, Zvi being the translator. These impromptu interviews open doorways into our understanding of the situation here; we wouldn't know their real stories otherwise. Child guards in the army, something we see in every country. The wish for world peace seems it must always be an impossible dream.
While we were in Rosh Hanikra we rode the steepest cable cars in the world down a precipitous 60 degree angle to reach the sea and the limestone grottos carved there by the water. After walking through slippery dark tunnels and sea caves, suddenly a cave opened to an exquisite natural grotto; the waves washed in and out, constantly eroding the soft rock. Brilliant blues and greens of the water are stunningly, invitingly beautiful, but no one can safely swim here. It is a mesmerizing sight, hard to leave but I can still visit it clearly in my memory.
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